Guest Blog: Rita from Red pepper quilts, placemats project

Tuesday 12th March 2013, 9.30

Rita Hodge is the creative behind Red Pepper Quilts and has been blogging since 2009. Her blog feels a little bit like looking at a colourful sweet jar, bursting with colour and goodness. Rita’s passion for quilting is clearly visible in her sewing. She enjoys travelling with her family and always finds a patchwork store to stock up on her fabric finds. We caught up with the quilting expert to find out about her fabric obsession and crafting style, what inspired her to start quilting and just how many quilts she’s made over the years.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am the mother of two teens and, together with my very patient and understanding husband, we live in Melbourne, Australia. Quilting is my passion, and fabric is my obsession. My quilting style is fresh and modern; using really simple and often traditional design ideas to make colourful quilts. I am inspired by colour including the colours and prints of fabrics. I have a significant fabric stash and enjoy nothing more than pulling out fabric and stacking bundles into possible quilt combinations. That’s not to say that each stack becomes a quilt. Most often fabric stacks are arranged, re-arranged and edited. Sometimes they are simply returned to stash. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Who taught you how to sew, have you passed your sewing skills to your children?

I am a self-taught quilter, although I spent my childhood surrounded (and clothed) by my mother’s handmade endeavors including sewing, cross-stitch, embroidery, knitting and crochet. I started sewing (making quilts) when my children were in primary school and I joined school parents in contributing to the making of a raffle quilt to raise funds for the school. It was the first time I learnt about rotary cutters, 1/4 inch seams and half square triangles. My children aren’t overly interested in sewing, however they always have unrestricted access to my stash and a spare sewing machine at the ready. My daughter made her first quilt at age 14 ~ an improvised scrap buster

What techniques do you like using?

My preferred sewing technique is by machine and generally in the style of traditional patchwork designs. My quilts are fresh and modern, and often very simple in construction thereby allowing the fabric, colour and prints to be the central feature. I do love fabric!

You have been blogging since 2009, have you seen trends change in this time?

I am not much of a trend setter or follower although since 2009 there are many more very talented quilters blogging and documenting their quilting journey.

How many quilts do you think you have sewn over the years and do you have any favourites?

No one has ever asked me that question before, nor do I keep count of how many quilts I have made. I’ve done a quick tally of the quilts on my blog and have counted approximately 140 quilts! Initially I was going to guess 50-60 quilts so I am quite surprised by how many quilts I have finished in the last four years. I do have numerous favorite quilts; some because they represent a memory, a point in time, others because I just loved piecing and quilting them. Acouple of my favourites include The Zig Zag Rail Fence Quilt because I really do enjoy working with my scraps and The Butterfly Quilt which was the start of my obsession with text fabrics.

Rita has shared with us the perfect placemat project for your home. Simple yet pretty in design with easy to follow steps, these placemats will make all the difference to a laid table.

Liberty Lifestyle – Bloomsbury Gardens Placemats (set of 4)

The finished size of each placemat is 13 inches (33.02cm) x 18 inches (45.72cm)

Yardage requirements are based on standard 44 inch ( 112cm) wide 100 percent cotton fabric.

Please note instructions are for one placemat.

REQUIRED SUPPLIES

Materials Required:

Assorted Liberty Lifestyle or printed fabric scraps: a combined equivalent of a ½ yard (45.72cm)

1 yard (91cm) linen,  linen/cotton blend or neutral fabric (I have used Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Cotton/Linen in Flax).

8 binding strips (two strips are required for each placemat) each strip measuring  2 ¼ inches (5.72cm) wide and cut from the width of the fabric a total of ½ yard (45.72cm).

4 Fat Quarters for backing fabric.

4 pieces of cotton batting each measuring 15 inches (38.10cm) x 20 inches (50.80cm) or larger

Other Requirements:

Rotary Cutter, Ruler and Cutting Mat

100 per cent cotton thread

Tape for sandwiching the quilt

Safety Pins or basting spray for basting

Sewing machine with a quarter inch and walking foot for quilting.

General sewing supplies

GETTING STARTED

Instructions

Style 1 – Patchwork Placemats (no Borders)

1.  From linen/neutral fabric cut 70 squares each measuring 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm) x 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm)

2.  From Liberty Lifestyle or Printed fabric cut 70 squares each measuring 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm) x 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm).

3.  Lay out all squares in an alternating pattern – 10 rows of 14 squares each.

4.  Using a ¼ inch (6.35mm) seam allowance sew squares together into rows:  ten rows each of 14 squares.

5.  Press seams together towards the printed fabric – away from the linen/neutral fabric.

6.  Sew rows together.  Press seams together to one side.

Patchwork piece now measures 13 inches (33.02cm) x 18 inches (45.72cm)

Repeat steps 1 to 6 for the second placemat.

Style 2  – Patchwork Placemat with Borders

1.  From linen/neutral fabric cut 30 squares each measuring 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm) x 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm)

2.  From Liberty Lifestyle or Printed fabric cut 30 squares  each measuring 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm) x 1 ¾ inches (4.45cm)

3.  Lay out all squares in an alternating pattern – 6 rows of 10 squares each.

4.  Using a ¼ inch (6.35mm) seam allowance sew squares together into rows:  six rows each of 10 squares.

5.  Press seams together towards the printed fabric – away from the linen/neutral fabric.

6.  Sew rows together.  Press seams together to one side.

7. From linen/neutral fabric cut 4 pieces for the borders:  13 inches (33.02cm) x 3 inches (7.62cm)

8.  Using a ¼ inch (6.35mm) seam allowance attach borders to the top and bottom first, then attach side borders.

Patchwork piece now measures 13 inches (33.02cm) x 18 inches (45.72cm).

Repeat steps 1 to 8 for the second placemat.

FINISHING

Cut backing and batting to size – 15 inches (38.10cm) x 20 inches (50.80cm) for each placemat.

Baste layers together using your preferred method.

Quilt as desired.  Use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim the excess batting and backing from each placemat and ensure that the corners are square.

From the width of the binding fabric cut 2 strips each measuring 2 ¼ inches (5.72cm) wide (two strips of binding fabric are required for each placemat). Join the two binding strips end to end using 45 degree seams. Press the seam open. Fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Using walking foot and a ¼ inch seam allowance and stitch the binding to the front of the placemat, matching the raw edges. Join the ends together with a diagonal seam. A detailed tutorial of this join/seam is on my blog.

Stitch over the last section of the binding and slightly beyond the initial starting point.

If required trim the backing and batting to ¼ inch (6.35mm) from the seam line and square the corners.

Turn the folded edge of the binding to the wrong side of the quilt and by hand slip stitch in place, mitering the corners as you go.

Alternatively you can machine stitch the binding – a detailed tutorial of which is also posted on my blog.

This pattern is not to be used for commercial purposes. Please do not distribute this pattern without permission.

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